Florida Grand Opera 70th Season

From Nov 13th, 2010 through May 1st, 2011

altFlorida Grand Opera will open its 70th season on November 13th, 2010, with Puccini’s Turandot, considered by many to be the culmination of the Italian grand opera tradition. Turandot, Puccini’s atmospheric final opera set in ancient China, was first performed at Milan’s La Scala in 1926, one year and five months after Puccini’s death in 1924. Arturo Toscanini conducted the first performance, and the opera would soon become famous for its title role, one of the most demanding and challenging in the dramatic soprano repertory. Turandot’s suitors must correctly answer her three riddles, or die. All have failed until the arrival of a mysterious suitor who succeeds and presents Turandot with a challenge of his own.

American soprano Lise Lindstrom will make her FGO debut in the title role, which also served as her debut role at the Metropolitan Opera in 2009. The California native has performed Turandot with leading opera companies worldwide, and is also recognized for her performances of Richard Strauss’ Salome, Ariadne in Ariadne auf Naxos, and Senta in Richard Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman. Soprano Elizabeth Caballero, seen here most recently as Mimì in La bohème and the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro, will return as Liù, and tenor Frank Porretta, who made his recent Met debut as Calaf, will repeat the role for FGO in this production. Kevin Langan, a frequent and highly appreciated guest artist at Florida Grand Opera, returns to reprise one of his signature roles, the deposed king Timur.

Spanish conductor Ramon Tebar returns to conduct Turandot, following his successful FGO debut leading the 2010 Lucia di Lammermoor production. Turandot was designed by the stage director and designer team of Bliss Hebert and Allen Charles Klein, who will return to oversee the revival of this highly acclaimed production. Their new production of La traviata opened Florida Grand Opera’s 2009-10 season.

The season continues in January with Jacques Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann (Les Contes d’Hoffmann) last seen at Florida Grand Opera in 1999. Offenbach’s reputation was firmly established by his hugely successful comic operas, but with The Tales of Hoffmann, the composer of the famous “Can-Can” from Orpheus in the Underworld was determined to achieve recognition as a composer of serious opera as well. Based on several short stories by the writer E.T.A. Hoffmann, The Tales of Hoffmann would soon become a favorite vehicle for many of the world’s leading opera singers who relished the opportunity to exploit its limitless dramatic opportunities. Canadian tenor David Pomeroy, who made his 2009 Metropolitan Opera debut in the title role of its new production of The Tales of Hoffmann, will make his FGO debut in the same role.

One of opera’s great challenges is for a single soprano to undertake the roles of all four of Hoffmann’s loves in The Tales of Hoffmann. For Florida Grand Opera’s production, the remarkable American soprano Elizabeth Futral returns to perform all of them for the first time in her career. Her previous FGO appearances as Gounod’s Juliette, Donizetti’s Lucia, and Strauss’ Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos are some well-remembered highlights of past seasons. She appeared at Lyric Opera of Chicago this season in Lehar’s The Merry Widow. Bass-baritone Bradley Garvin will make his FGO debut as the four villains, and Katherine Rohrer will make her FGO debut as Hoffmann’s companion Nicklausse. Cuban-born conductor Lucy Arner will also make her Florida Grand Opera debut. The director and designer team of Renaud Doucet and André Barbe will remount their sumptuous production, which has been highly acclaimed in Denver, Saint Louis, and Boston.

Mozart’s Don Giovanni will open on April 16th, 2011. Considered by many to be the most perfect opera ever written, Don Giovanni continues to thrill audiences today as it did at its premiere in 1787. This second collaboration of Mozart and librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte followed their success with The Marriage of Figaro a year earlier. Mozart used the story of the world’s most infamous lover, Don Juan, to create one of opera’s unforgettably vivid characters and one of the world’s favorite operas.

Baritone David Pittsinger, previously seen here in a remarkable portrayal of Count Rodolfo in FGO’s 2007 La sonnambula and as Scarpia in the company’s 2008 Tosca, will return to sing the title role in Mozart’s Don Giovanni. He has performed Don Giovanni for the Opera Company of Philadelphia, New York City Opera, and Opera Colorado, and appears regularly at the Metropolitan Opera and leading companies around the world. Bass Tom Corbeil, a former member of FGO’s Young Artist Studio and San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, returns in the role of the Don’s servant Leporello following his portrayal of Don Basilio in this season’s The Barber of Seville. Tenor Andrew Bidlack, a former member of FGO’s Young Artist Studio who sang Count Almaviva in FGO’s February 24 and 27, 2010 performances of The Barber of Seville, returns as Don Ottavio.

American soprano Jacquelyn Wagner will make her FGO debut as Donna Anna, and Ana María Martínez, who was Fiordiligi in FGO’s 2007 production of Così fan tutte, returns as Donna Elvira. Ms. Wagner is a recipient of a Fulbright Study Grant and has been appearing with numerous opera companies in Europe; she has appeared with numerous American orchestras, but this production will mark her official American operatic debut. Ms. Martínez, who has become a leading international soprano, was heard recently as Marguerite in Faust at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Metropolitan Opera bass Morris Robinson, last seen as Ramfis in FGO’s 2006 production of Aida, returns as the Commendatore. Andrew Bisantz, Florida Grand Opera’s Resident Conductor, will lead these performances of Don Giovanni following his highly acclaimed conducting of the 2009-10 season- opening double bill of Pagliacci and Suor Angelica. Don Giovanni will be directed by John Pascoe, who originally designed and directed the production for Washington National Opera.

The season will conclude with David DiChiera’s Cyrano, which premiered in 2007 in Detroit at Michigan Opera Theatre. Bernard Uzan, who created the French libretto, will also direct the production. Cyrano is based on Edmond Rostand’s beloved play, Cyrano de Bergerac, and DiChiera’s romantic, melodic score perfectly enhances this tragic story of star-crossed would-be lovers. FGO General Director Robert M. Heuer stated, “As we are co-producers of Cyrano, it was a thrill to see the standing ovation it received in Detroit at its premiere, and I’m very excited about presenting this new opera to South Florida audiences. I am sure it will be received here with equal enthusiasm.”

Leah Partridge, one of South Florida’s favorite sopranos, will return to FGO as Roxane, a role specifically written for her. Romanian baritone Marian Pop, seen as Dandini in last season’s La Cenerentola, will perform the title role. French tenor Sébastien Guèze, whose international career was launched by his taking second prize in Placido Domingo’s 2006 Operalia competition, makes his FGO debut as Christian. American conductor Mark Flint, who orchestrated Cyrano and conducted the world premiere at Michigan Opera Theatre, will lead the Florida Grand Opera performances.

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